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Why China Has No Science--An Interpretation of the History and Consequences of Chinese Philosophy Author(s):

Why China Has No Science--An Interpretation of the History and Consequences of Chinese Philosophy Author(s): Yu-Lan Fung Reviewed work(s):

Source: International Journal of Ethics, Vol. 32, No. 3 (Apr., 1922), pp. 237-263 Published by: The University of Chicago Press

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In one of his articlespublishedlast year in the New Re- public,ProfessorDewey, said:

"It may be questionedwhether the most enlighteningthing he [the visitor]can do for otherswho areinterestedin Chinais not to sharewith them his discoverythat Chinacan be knownonly in termsof itself, and older Europeanhistory. Yet one must repeat that China is changing rapidly;andthat it is asfoolishto goonthinkingofit in termsof olddynas- tic Chinaas it is to interpretit by pigeon-holingits facts in Westerncon- ceptions. Chinais anotherworldpoliticallyandeconomicallyspeaking,a largeandpersistentworld,anda worldboundno oneknowsjust where." 2

It is truly a discovery.

with the historyof Europeof a few centuriesago, say before

the Renaissance,we findthat, althoughthey areof different

kinds, they are neverthelesson the same level.

If we compare Chinese history

But now

Chinais still old whilethewesterncountriesarealreadynew.

What keeps Chinaback? It is a naturalquestion. What keeps Chinaback is that she has no science.


effect of this fact is not only plain in the materialside, but

1 In publishingthis paperI take the opportunityto thank many membersof the faculty of the Philosophy Department of Columbia University for en- couragementand help. By scienceI meanthe systematicknowledgeof natural phenomenaand of the relationsbetween them. Thus it is the short term for Natural Science. 2 TheNew Republic,Vol. XXV, 1920,New York, p. 188.


alsoin the spiritualside, of the presentconditionof Chinese life. China produced her philosophy at the same time with, or a little before, the height of Athenian culture. Why did she not produce science at the same time with, or even before, the beginning of modern Europe? This paper is an attempt to answer this question in terms of China herself. It is beyond question that geography, climate, and economic conditionsare very importantfactors in making history, but we must bear in mind that they are conditions that make history possible, not that make history actual. They are the indispensablesettings of a drama,but not its cause. The cause that makes history actual is the will to live and the desirefor happiness. But what is happiness? People are far from agreeingin their answersto this ques-

It is due to this fact that we have many different


systems of philosophy, many differentstandards of value, and consequentlymany differenttypes of history. At the end of this paperI shallventureto drawthe conclusionthat

Chinahas no science,becauseaccordingto her ownstandard

of value she doesnot need any.

conclusion, we have first to see what the older Chinese standard of value is. In doing so a generalsurvey of the history of Chinesephilosophyis indispensable.

But beforewe cometo this


At the end of the Chow dynasty, the emperorslost their power to control the feudal princes who began to regard themselves as independent,and the land was subjected to

warfare. It was an age of politicalconfusionindeed,but of

great intellectual initiative.

It was equivalent to the

Athenian periodof mental vigor in Europe. Beforeattackingthe differenttypes of Chineseideals,for the sake of convenienceI shall introducetwo words which seem to me to indicate respectivelytwo generaltendencies of Chinesephilosophy: They are "nature" and "art," or, to translate more exactly, "nature" and "human." To illustratethis I cite fromChuangTse a passage:







"Whatis nature? Whatis human? That ox andhorsehave fourfeet is nature;to halterthe head of a horseor to piercethe nose of an ox is


Thus "nature" meanssomethingnatural;"human" means

somethingartificial. The one is madeby nature,the other

by man.

At the end of the Chow dynasty there were two

tendencies representing these two extremes and a third representinga mean between the two. The one said that natureis perfectin itself and that men areself-sufficientand need no help fromoutside;the othersaid that natureis not

perfectin itself andthat men arenot self-sufficientand need something outside in orderto be better; the third made a compromise. These three main types of ideal did not appearone afterthe other,but ratherarosesimultaneously, and expressedat one time the differentaspects of human nature and experience. Now accordingto the "Book of Han," at the end of the Chow dynasty there were nine branchesof thought: Confucianism,Taoism, Moism, the School of Religion, the Schoolof Law, the Schoolof Logic, the Schoolof Diplomacy,the Schoolof Agriculture,and the MiscellaneousSchool. But amongthem the most influential at that time were Confucianism,Taoism, and Moism. In almost every book written at the end of the Chowdynasty, we are informedthat these three were strugglingfor exist- ence. To illustratethis I cite fromthe polemicspeechesof Mencius, a great defenderof Confucianismat that time:

"Philosopheremperorsceaseto arise;the princesof the states give reins to their lusts; and the scholarsindulge in unrationaldiscussions. The wordsof Yang ChuandMo Ti fillthe world. The discourseof the people has adoptedthe viewseitherof Yang or of Mo. Yang'sdoctrineis: each

one for himself;then there will be no king. Mo's doctrineis: love all equally;thentherewillbe no father. To haveneitherkingnorfatheris to


the doctrineof sagesnot set forth,then the perversespeakingswilldelude

the people,and stop the path of benevolenceand righteousness. When benevolenceandrighteousnessarestopped,beastswill be led on to devour

If the doctrinesof Yang andMo arenot stoppedand

3From the chapter entitled "The Autumn Floods."

Comparewith H. A.

Giles' translation in his book, ChuangTsu, Mystic, Moralist,and Social Re- former. London, 1889, p. 211.





menandmenwillthemselvesdevouroneanother. I amalarmedby these

things and addressmyself to the defenceof the doctrinesof the former



Now Mo Ti was the founderof Moism, and Yang Chu was the discipleof the founderof Taoism,Lao Tse. This pass- age seems to me to be a vivid picture of the state of war existing between these three powers. They were not only strugglingfor existence,but each one of them had the am- bition to conquerthe whole empire. To illustratetheirdoctrinesa little morein detail I choose Lao Tse (570 B. C.?-480 B. C.?), Yang Chu (440 B. C.?- 360 B. C.?), and Chuang Tse (350 B. C.?-275 B. C.?) to representTaoism; Mo Tse (Mo Ti, 500 B. C.?-425 B. C.?) to representMoism; and Confucius(551 B.C.-479 B. C.) and Mencius (372 B. C.-289 B. C.) to represent Con- fucianism. Referringto the three tendencieswhich I just mentioned, Taoism stands for nature, Moism for art, and Confucianismfor the mean. It seems tome that in every aspectof their doctrines,Taoismand Moismwerealwaysat the two extremes and Confucianismin the middle. For instance, with regard to their ethical theories, Mencius agreesin arrangingthem in a scheme as I do. He said:

each one for himself.

Thoughhe mightbenefitthe wholeworldby pluckingout a singlehair,he

would not do it.


Tse Mo helda meanbetween


cumstances,he resembledthemin maintaininghis onepoint to the exclu- sion of others."5

It goes without saying that to hold the mean while leaving room for the changeablenessof circumstancesis the only right way of action. It is exactly the teaching of Con- fucianism.- I shallmakeit clearera little later.

"The doctrine of the philosopherYang was:

The doctrineof the philosopherMo was: to love all

If by rubbingsmoothhiswholebodyfromthe crownto the heel,

he could benefitthe world,he woulddo it.

By holdingit withoutleavingroomfor the changeablenessof cir-

4JamesLegge'stranslation,with somemodification. See the ChineseClassics, seconded., London, 1895, Vol. II, pp. 282-83.


Legge's translation, with some modification. See

Classics,Vol. II, pp. 464-465.





The teachingof Taoismcanbe summarizedin onephrase:

"returningto nature."

The omnipotent Tao

gives every-

thing its own nature, in which it findsits own satisfaction. For instance:

"In the northernoceanthereis a fish,calledthe Leviathan,manythou- sand li 8 in size. This Leviathanchangesinto a bird, called the Rukh, whoseback is many li in breadth. With a mighty effortit rises and its wingsobscurethe sky like clouds. At the equinox,this birdpreparesto start for the southernocean,the CelestialLake. And in the 'Recordof Marvels'wereadthat whenthe Rukhfliessouthwards,the wateris smitten for a spaceof threethousandli around,whilethe birditself mountsupon

a typhoonto a heightof ninetythousandli fora flightof sixmonths'dura- A cicadalaughed,andsaidto a dove: 'NowwhenI fly with

is as muchas I cando to get from tree to tree. And some-

my might,it

times I do not reach,but fall to the groundmidway. What,then, canbe the useof goingup ninetythousandli in orderto startforthe South?"' 7

This passageis cited from a chapter entitled "The Happy Excursion"fromChuangTse's work. It showsclearlythat both the greatRukh and the small cicadaareperfectlysat- isfied,eachwith his ownexcursion. They continueto be so as long as they live in accordancewith their naturewithout imitating artificiallyeachother. So everythingis perfectin its natural condition. Art simply disturbs nature and producespain. For, as ChuangTse said;

"A duck'slegs, thoughshort,cannotbe lengthenedwithoutpainto the duck,and a crane'slegs,thoughlong, cannotbe shortenedwithoutmisery to the crane, so that whichis long in naturecannotbe cut off, nor that whichis shortbe lengthened. All sorrowsarethus avoided,"8

Yang Chu's egoism, therefore,is not selfishin the ordinary

sense of that word.

man shouldlive as his naturewishesto live; but he need not

imposeupon otherswhat he thinks to be good. So he said:

"If the ancientby injuringa singlehaircouldhaverendereda serviceto the world,he wouldnot have doneit; andhadthe worldbeen offeredto a

He was simply teaching that every

6The " Ii" is about one-thirdof an English mile. 7H. A. Giles'translation. See his ChuangTsu, etc., pp. 1-2.

8Fromthe chapterentitled "The JoinedToes."

See Giles'ChuangTsu,etc.,

p. 101.


If nobodywoulddamage

even a hair,andnobodywouldhave the worldfor profit,the worldwould

be in a perfectstate."9

Anotherpassagefrom ChuangTse:

singleperson,he wouldnot have acceptedit.




"'Tell me,' said Lao Tse, 'in what consist charityand duty to one's

neighbor?' 'Theyconsist,'answeredConfucius,'in a capacityforrejoicing

in all things;in universallove, withoutthe elementof self.

characteristicsof charityandduty to one'sneighbor.' 'Whatstuff!'cried LaoTse, 'doesnot universallove contradictitself? Is not yourelimination

Thereis the universe,its regularity

of selfa positivemanifestationofself?

is unceasing;therearethe sun andthe moon,theirbrightnessis unceasing;

therearethe stars,theirgroupingsneverchange;therearebirdsandbeasts, they flock togetherwithout varying;there trees and shrubs,they grow upwardswithout exception. Be like these; follow Tao; and you will be perfect. Why,then,thesestrugglesforcharityandduty to one'sneighbor, as though beating a drumin searchof a fugitive? Alas! sir, you have broughtmuchconfusioninto the mindof man.'"l

Thus the Taoists see only the good aspects of what is called


the state of nature.

regulationis to them against nature.

Every kind of humanvirtue and social

As Lao Tse said:

"Cast off your holiness,rid yourselfof sagacity, and the people will benefita hundredfold.Discardbenevolenceandabolishrighteousness,and

the people will returnto filial piety and paternallove.

schemingand abandongain, and the thieves and robberswill disappear. Thesethreepreceptsmeanthat outwardshowis insufficient,andtherefore they bid us be true to our propernature:to show simplicity,to embrace

plaindealing,to reduceselfishness,to moderatedesire."11


The government,if the Taoists need any, must be extreme


"As restrictionsand prohibitionsare multipliedin the country, the peoplegrowpoorerand poorer. Whenthe peoplearesubjectedto over- much government,the land is throwninto confusion. When peopleare skilledin manycunningarts,strangearethe objectsof luxurythat appear. The greaterthe numberof lawsandenactments,the morethievesandrob- berstherewill be."12

I Fromthe chapter,"Yang Chu,"in the workof Lieh Tse.

10 From the chapterentitled "The Way of Nature."

See Giles' ChuangTsu

etc., p. 167.

11 Lionel Giles: TheSayings of Lao Tsu, p. 44.

12 Ibid., p. 38.


Governmentshould imitate nature:

"The Tao in its regularcoursedoes nothing and so there is nothing whichit doesnot do."13


This is becauseTao lets everythingworkfor itself in its own way:

"Thereforethe sagesaid: 'So long as I do nothing,the peoplewillwork out theirownreformation. So longas I love calm,the peoplewillbe right themselves. So longas I amfreefrommeddling,the peoplewillgrowrich. So long as I am free from desire,the peoplewill comenaturallybackto



So what man ought to do is to accordwith his natureand

be content with his destiny.

nature of Taoism I cite from ChuangTse:

To illustrate this passive


the door,he askedthe dying man: 'Great indeedis the Creator! What

will he now makeyou to become? Wherewill he take you to?

"Tse Lai fell ill.

Tse Li went to see him.




Will he

make you the liver of a rat?or an armof an insect?'

'Wherea parenttells a son to go, East, West, South,or North,he simply

followsthe command. The Yin and Yang (the two forcesof nature)are

moreto a manthanhisparentsare.

quietly submit to them, I shall be obstinate and rebellious,but they are not mistaken. The greatmassof naturemakesme to be movedwith the body,to be busywithlife, to be at easewithold age,andto be at restwith


Tse Laianswered:

If they hastenmy deathandI donot

Thereforewhat has mademy life a goodmakesalso my death a


Knowledgeis of no use and can do only harm:

"Our life is limited, but knowledge is not limited. limitedto pursue what is not limitedis a perilousthing." 16

What we need and ought to know and to get is the Tao, but it is in us. It is like the God of the pantheisticphiloso-

With what is



13 James Legge: The Textsof Taoism (in the SacredBooksof theEast series). London, 1891, Pt. I, p. 70.

So what

we ought to do is to know and to control

14 Ibid., p. 38.

15 From the chapter on "The Great Master," Giles' James Legge's Texts of Taoism, Pt. I, p. 249.

15From the chapter on "Nourishing the Essence of Life."

Ibid., p. 198.





"He who knowsothersis clever,but he who knowshimselfis enlight-

He who overcomesothersis strong,but he who overcomeshimself


is mightierstill."17

Besides, we have to use an altogether differentmethod to

know and to get the Tao.

Lao Tse said:

"He who devotes himselfto knowledgeseeks from day to day to in- crease. He whodevoteshimselfto Taoseeksfromdayto day to diminish. He diminishesandagaindiminishestillhearrivesat doingnothing. Having arrivedat the point of doingnothing,there is nothingwhichhe doesnot


As Tao is already in us, it can be known not by adding something artificiallyto it, but by taking away what has been artificiallyadded to it before. That is what Lao Tse meant by "diminish." So the argumentsof those who were simply interestedin intellectualexercisewereto the Taoists of little value. Thus in Chuang Tse's book one passage reads:

"To wear out one's intellect in trying to arguewithout knowingthe factthat the argumentsarethe sameis called'threein the morning.''What

is three in the morning?'asked Tse Yu.

Tse Chi, 'said once to his monkeyswith regardto their chestnuts,that

But to this

the monkeyswerevery angry, so the keepersaid that they might have

fourin the morningandthreein wereall well pleased.'2 19

the night, with which arrangementthey

eachwas to havethreein the morningandfourin the night.

'A keeperof monkeys,'replied

Thus Taoism stood for nature as against art.


The fundamentalidea of Moismis utility.

The sanction

of virtue is not that it is natural, but that it is useful. the book bearingMo Tse's name one passage reads:


"Righteousnessis whatis beneficialto us. gladto have." 20

Benefitis that whichwe are

17 Lionel Giles: TheSayings of Lao Tsu, p. 44.

18 James Legge: The Textsof Taoism,Pt. I, p. 90.

19From the chapter on

"The Identity of Contraries,"H. A. Giles: Chuang

Tsu, etc., p. 20.

20 From the first of the two chapterson "Definitions."


Thus Mo Tse's position in ethics was essentially that of utilitarianism. He was also a pragmatist and an empiri-



He said:

"Forargumenttheremustbe a standard. If we arguewithouta stand- ard,it is just like fixingmorningand night on a movingcircle:we cannot knowclearlywhetherit is rightor wrong,usefulor harmful. Fortesting an argumentthere are three standards.What are these three standards? They are:to traceit, to examineit, andto use it. Wheretraceit? Trace it in the authorityof the ancientphilosopherkings. Whereexamineit? Examineit in the facts whichthe commonpeoplesee and hear. Where use it? Put it into practiceandsee whetherit is usefulforthe benefitof the country and the people. These are the three standardsfor argu-

ment." 21

Among these three standards, the third seems to be the

most important.

versal love, because it seemed to him to be the most "use-

ful for the benefit of the

him speak for himself, I select from the chapters entitled "Universal Love":

"The businessof the benevolentmanmustbe to striveto promotewhat is advantageousto the worldandto take awaywhatis injuriousto it. At the presenttime,whatareto be accountedthe mostinjuriousthingsto the

world? They aresuch as the attackingof smallstates by the greatones; the inroadon smallfamiliesby the greatones;the plunderof the weakby

the strong;the oppressionof the few by the many.

whenceall these injuriousthingsarise. Is it fromlovingothersor advan- tagingothers?It must be replied'No'; andit mustlikewisebe said' They ariseclearlyfrom hating othersand doingviolenceto others.' Do those whohate and do violenceto othersholdthe principleof lovingall, orthat of makingdistinctionsbetweenman andman? It must be replied,'They make distinctions.' So then it is the principleof making distinctions betweenman andman,whichgivesriseto all that is most injuriousto the world. Onthis accountwe concludethat that principleis Thereis a principleof lovingall whichis ableto changethat whichmakes If the princes were as much for the state of othersas for their own, whichone amongthem wouldraise the forcesof his state to attack that of another? He is for that as much as for his 'So then it is the principleof universal,mutuallove, which gives rise to all that is most beneficialto the world. Onthis accountwe

So Mo Tse taught the doctrine of uni-

country and the people."

To let

Let us ask





21 Fromthe firstof the threechaptersonthe "Absurdityof Predestination."


concludethat that principleis




Othersmay say, 'It is good,

but it is extremelyhardto be carriedinto practice.' But how can it be

I apprehend

thereis no one underheaven,man or woman,howeverstupid,thoughhe condemnthe principleof universallove, but would at such a time (the most dangeroustime), make one who held it the subject of his trust. I apprehendthereis no one underheaven,howeverstupid, man orwoman,thoughhe condemnthe principleof universallove, but would at such a time (the most dangeroustime), preferto be under the sov- ereignwho holds it.".22

This shows that the doctrine of universallove is not only advantageousto others, but to those as well who act ac- cordingto this principle. In the book that bears Mo Tse's name three chapters are devoted to describingthe disad- vantagesof war. Waris not only injuriousto the conquered, but to the conqueroras well. Even occasionally some of the states may make profit at the expense of others, it still cannot be justified. He comparedthis to medicine. There is medicine;if ten thousand people use it and only

four or five are benefited,it is surely not a good medicine. Mo Tse stood for the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

Taoist, knew the imperfection of

human nature. Mankind is too shortsighted to see its own interests. Men cannotbe convincedthat loving others is advantageousto themselves and selfishnesscan do only harm. So, Mo Tse, again unlike the Taoist, saw the need of authorities to regulate human action. He taught that there is a personalGod. Men should love each other, not only because so doing is advantageous,but also because it is the will of God. Even belief in the existence of spirits and ghosts as the invisible watchersover men's conduct is upheld as a valuable aid in maintainingmorality. The function and authority of the state are likewise emphasizedby Mo Tse as aids to a right life:

good,andyet incapableof beingput into practice?

He also, unlike the

22 Up to the presenttime there is no English translationof the book bearing Mo Tse's name. But these three chapterson universal love were translated by James Legge in the introductionto the work of Mencius. See the Chinese Classics,Vol. II, pp. 108-111.







"In ancienttimes,whenmankindjust beganto enterthe worldandhad no politicalassociation,every one had his own righteousness. If there was one man,therewas one righteousness;if two, two righteousnesses;if ten, ten righteousnesses;the moremen,the morerighteousnesses. Every one consideredhis own righteousnessas right and others' as wrong.

Therefore,peoplewere against each

disorderand people were like birds and beasts. They knew that the reasonthat the worldwas in disorderwas that therewas no rightleader; therefore,they elected a wise and able manto be theiremperor. Then the emperororderedthe people,saying: 'If you hearwhat is good and what is not good, tell all of them to your superior. What your superiorconsidersas right, all of you must consideras right; what your superiorconsidersas wrong,all of you must consideras wrong."' 23

This is altogether differentfrom the Taoistic conceptionof the state. Besides this, Mo Tse also emphasisedthe im- portance of education. In the book that bears his name, one chapter is entitled: "What is Dyed," in which one passage reads:

The world was in

"Master Mo Tse saw one dyeing silk.

He sighedand said: 'Dyed in

blue,thesilkbecomesblue;dyedin yellow,the silkbecomesyellow. What it enters changes; it changesits color accordingly. By entering five times, it is turnedinto five colors. Thereforeit is necessaryto take care of the dyeing."' 24

Followingthis he cited a long list of facts to show how some men becamegoodby associatingwith goodmen, and others

bad by associatingwith bad men.

him to be a tabularasa and its color depends entirely on

how one dyes it.

Taoistic conceptionof human nature. In contrast with Taoism Mo Tse denied predestination. Rewardand punishmenteither by God or by the state are the results of men's voluntary action. If the will is not free, men will not be responsible,for their bad doing, and will not be encouragedto do good. They will think, as Mo Tse said:


This again is very different from the

"He whois punishedis predestinedto be punishedbut not becausehe is


He whois rewardedis predestined to be rewardedbut not because

23 Fromthe firstof the threechapterson "ThePreferenceof Uniformity." 24From the chapteron "Whatis Dyed."





he is good. Thereforeif they becomeprinces,they will not be righteous;

if they becomeministers,they will not be loyal.





Thus Mo Tse worked out many devices for making people good. His ideal is to have the greatest numberof

population, with the necessary external goods, living to-

getherpeacefullyand loving each other.

Mo Tse said:

"When a philosophergovernsa

country, the wealth of that country

canbe doubled;whenhe governsthe world,the wealthof the worldcanbe

doubled. It is doublednot at the expenseof others,but by utilizingthe


is not easy to be doubled? It is the populationonlythat is not easyto be

doubled. But thereis a way to doubleit. The ancientphilosopherkings hada lawsaying:'Whenthe boyis twentyyearsold,he musthave a home;

when the girl is fifteen years old, she must have her man.

Whatis it that





This is Mo Tse's ideal of progress. Progress is possible not by struggleand competition,but by universallove and mutual help. To this I must add that the ideal of Mo Tse is not a Platonic one. Mo Tse was too realistic to be content to put his pattern in heaven. He was ready to

fight against anything that seemedto him to

ble with the increaseof wealth and population. He taught

economyof expenditurebecause, as he said:

"Philosopherkingsdo not do those thingswhichincreasethe expendi- ture but not the profit of the people." 27

He was also against music and fine art, because they have nothing to do with the fact that:

"Peoplehave three troubles:those who are hungrybut have no food; thosewhoarecoldbut haveno clothes;andthosewhoaretiredbut cannot rest." 28

He was also against the Confucianistteaching of the lux- uriousway of buryingthe deadand the three years' mourn-

ing on occasion of the death of parents.

ought not spendtheir time, energy,and wealth in this way;

in doing so,

be incompati-

Because people

25 Fromthe first of the three chapterson "The Absurdityof Predestination."

26 From the first of the three chapters on "The Economy of Expenditure."

27 Ibid., second chapter.

28 From the chapteron "Against Music."



"The countrymust becomepoor;the populationmust becomesmall; and politics must become corrupted." 29

These steps probably represent the decisive attitude of Moism to oppose nature. Indeed if one sees things wholly from the point of view of intellect, music and fine art are really of no use at all. If we know that death is a natural process, what is the use of mourning? Suen Tse said:

"Mo Tse was blindedby utility, and did not knowrefinement."30

This criticism is quite justified. Anyway, Mo Tse was certainly a philosopher who taught men to find happiness in the external world. He did not think, as the Taoists did, that men are most happy in the state of nature, and. that what men need and should do is to return to nature, instead of turning away from it. He knew, in contrast with Taoists, that men in nature are im- perfect, foolish, and weak; that, in order to be perfect, strong, and wise, they need the help of the state, of virtue, and of a personified God. So in his philosophy there was a strong sense of progress and of the future. In the book bearing his name one passage reads:

"PungChingShinTse said:'The past canbeknown,but notthe future. Mo Tse said: 'Supposethat your parents are at a placeone hundredli fromhere,and meet sometrouble:they ask you to go to them withinone

day;if you cando so, they willbe alive;if not they will die.

a good car with a good horse, and a bad horsewith a car with square

Which one will you take?'

may be able to

arriveearlier'wasthe answer. Mo Tse said: 'Then why do you say that

you cannotknowthe future?' 31

This is indeed a good illustration of utilizing the past to control the future. The spirit is scientific. In the book bearing Mo Tse's name there were several chapters de- voted to what we now call logic or definitions. They

Now thereis

wheels. I ask you to choosebetweenthem.

'I take the goodcarwith the good horsein orderthat I

29 From the chapteron "The Economy of Burying." 0 From the chapter on "The Elimination of Blindness" in the work of Suen Tse. 31 From the chapter "Lu Wen."


must be the product of Mo Tse's followers, if not of the


sometimesinterestingand scientific.

They contain many definitionswhich are

For instance:

"Space is that that covers differentplaces. Duration is that that

Causeis that after gettingwhicha thing can be.


Circleis that onemiddlehas the samelengthto all sides. Energyis that

by whicha formarises."32

There are many others like these, which seem to be germs

of science. Indeed Mo Tse was famous also for making machinesto defendthe city-wall, to which several chapters in the book bearinghis name are devoted. This is all I wish to say to support my statement that Moism stood for art as over against nature. Now let us turn to the third system, Confucianism.


Confucianism,as I said before,is a meanbetweenthe two extreme standpoints of nature and art. But at the time immediately after Confucius, there were two types of Confucianism. The one, represented by Mencius, stood nearerto the extreme of nature; the other, representedby Suen Tse, stood nearer to that of art. The teaching of Confuciushimselfwas nearerto the extremeof nature. So afterwardsMencius was and is consideredas the true and legal heir of Confucianism. Here I follow tradition in choosing Confuciusand Mencius to represent Confucian-

ism, but shall discuss Suen Tse in another place and shall

considerhim as anotherphilosopherin Chinesehistory who

attempted to develop the art line of Chinese thought.

Confucius,as Menciussaid, was a "sage of time."

"Whenit was properto go awayquickly,he didso; whenit was proper to delay,he didso;whenit wasproperto keepretirement,he didso; when it was properto go into office,he did so:-this was Confucius." 33

So Confucius emphasized discrimination of situations. It is not a first question whether I should love a person in

32 All areselectedfromthe firstof the two chapterson " Definitions." 33 James Legge: ChineseClassics,Vol. II, p. 371.


such and such a way or not; the first question is who that personis. Mencius said:

"In regardto the inferiorcreatures,the superiorman is kind to them,

but not loving.

not affectionate. He is affectionateto his relatives,andfriendlyto people generally. He is friendlyto peoplegenerally,andkindto creatures."34

He said again in anotherplace:


In regardto peoplegenerally,he is friendlyto them, but

"Here is a man, and a strangerbends his bow to shoot him.

I will

advise him not to do so, but speakingcalmlyand smilingly,for no other reasonbut that he is not relatedto me. But if my brotherbe bendinghis bow to shoot the man, I will advisehimnot to do so, weepingand crying the while,for no otherreasonbut that he is relatedto me." 35

Thus was developedthe doctrineof loving with a difference of degree,as over against that of universallove on the one hand and that of each for himselfon the other. We ought to love with differenceof degree,becauseit is humannature. Thus one passage in the work of Mencius reads:

"E Tse said:'Accordingto the principleof the learned,we findthat the ancientsactedtowardsthe peopleas if they werewatchingoveran infant. What doesthis expressionmean? To me it seemsthat we areto love all without differenceof degree;but in practicewe begin with our parents.' Seu Tse reportedthis to Mencius. Mencius said: 'Does E Tse really think that a man'saffectionfor the childof his brotheris merelylike his

affection for that of his neighbor?




Heaven gives birth to crea-

tures in such a way that they have one root, and E Tse makesthem to have two roots." 3n

Human nature, accordingto the teachingof Confucianism,

is essentially good.

This seems to have been a tradition

even beforethe time of Confucius. Becausehumannature is originally good, so the sanction of virtue is its being

admirableand desirable. Thus Mencius said:

"Men's mouths agreein having the same relishes;their ears agreein enjoyingthe samesound;theireyes agreein recognizingthe samebeauty; shalltheirmindsalonebe withoutthat whichthey similarlyapprove? It is, I say, reasonand righteousness. The sages only apprehendedbefore

34 James Legge: Chinese Classics, Vol. II, p. 476.

35 Ibid., p. 427. 3aIbid., pp. 258-259.


us whatourmindalso approves. Thereforereasonand righteousnessare agreeableto ourmind,just as goodfood is agreeableto ourmouth."3

In anotherplace he said:

"Whatis desirableis what is calledgood."38

But, although humannature is originallygood, it is not to be inferred that men are born perfect. They cannot be

perfect until their innate reason is completely developed,

and their lower desires are wholly taken away. Mencius said:


"The feeling of commiserationis the beginningof benevolence;the feelingof shameand dislikeis the beginningof righteousness;the feeling of modestyand complaisanceis the beginningof propriety;the feelingof


all menhave these fourfeelingsin themselves,let themknowhowto give them their developmentand their completion,and the issue will be like that of firewhichhasbegunto burn,orthat of a springwhichhasbegunto find vent. If they have their completedevelopment,they will sufficeto love andto protectall withinthe fourseas. If they be deniedtheirdevel- opment,they will not sufficefor a man to servehis parents." 39

approvingand disapprovingis the beginningof

And to develop reason on the one hand is to diminishthe lower desireson the other:

"To nourishthe mindthereis nothingbetterthan to makethe desires

few." 40

order to develop men's natural faculties, they need

some positive organization. The simple Taoistic way of returning to nature is not sufficient here. Therefore the

state is indispensable:

" In the Bookof Historyit is said: 'Heavenhavingproducedthe people in the lower earth,appointed for them rulersand teachers."' 41

But teachers and rulersare not to be separated. Most of

So in

the Chinesepolitical ideals are the same as Plato's.


must be philosopher;philosophermust be king.

This is

37 James Legge: Chinese Classics, Vol. II, pp. 406-407.

38 Ibid., p. 490.

39 Ibid., pp. 203-204.

40 Ibid. p. 497. 4' Ibid., p. 156.


especially emphasizedin the Confucianist'sconception of

the state.

certainamountof wealth to enablepeople to live, and then

to teach them. lects reads:

Thus one passage in the ConfucianAna-

The chief duty of the state is firstto maintaina


"Whenthe Masterwent to the state of Wei, Yen Yew acted as the driver of his carriage. The Master observed:'How numerousare the

people!' Yewsaid: 'Sincethey arethus numerous,whatshallbe donefor


'Enrich them,' was the answer. 'And when they have been

enriched,whatmoreshallbe done?' The Mastersaid: 'Teachthem."' 42

Moreoverin a state, teaching is more important than en-


In the ConfucianAnalects anotherpassagereads:

"The Duke King of Tse asked Confuciusabout government. Con- fuciusreplied:'The princeis prince,the ministeris minister,the fatheris father,andthe sonis son.' 'Good,'saidthe duke,'If, indeed,the princebe not prince,the ministernot minister,the fathernot father,andthe son not son, althoughthereis food, can we enjoy it?"' 3

As for the individual, external things are determined by


Thereforein'the ConfucianAnalects we read:

"Death andlife have their determinedappointment;richesand honors depend on Heaven."44

And Menciussaid:

"Whenwe get by our seekingand lose by our neglecting;in this case seekingis of use to getting,and thething soughtforis somethingwhichis in ourselves. When our seekingis conductedproperly,but the gettingis only as destinydetermines,in this case ourseekingis of no use to getting, and the thing soughtfor is that whichis withoutus."45

Therefore,what man shoulddo is to seek what is in himself. The fact that he is not able to control what is outside him does not make him imperfect;he is given by Heaven the godly reason within him, in which he can findtruth and be


So Mencius:

"He who has exhaustedall his mind, knowshis nature. Knowinghis

nature, he knows Heaven.

To preserveone's mind and nourish one's

42James Legge: Chinese Classics, Vol. I, pp. 266-267. 43 Ibid., p. 256.


p. 253.

46 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 450.


Whenneithera prematuredeathnor

nature,is the way to serveHeaven.

a long life makes any difference,but he waits in the cultivation of his characterfor whatevercomes;this is the way in whichhe establisheshis

Heaven-ordainedbeing." 46

In another place he said:

Turnourattentionto ourselvesandfind

therethis truth; thereis no

"All thingsarealreadyin us.

greaterdelight than that."47

In this point Confucianismis much nearer Taoism than Moism. Happiness and truth are in our mind. It is in our own mind, not in the externalworld, that we can seek for happinessand truth. We are self-sufficient,if only we develop our innate power. To learn is to cultivate our character according to our rational nature, not to make intellectual exercise or simply to remember mechanically what the books said. We have now completedour generalsurvey of the three originaltypes of Chineseideals. We have seen that in the theory of existence, the power that governs the universe, to Taoism is the omnipotentTao or Nature, to Moism is a

personified God, Reason. In the

"laissez faire "

to regulatethe differentindividualopinions,and Confucian- ism needed it to develop men's moral faculties. In the theory of life, Taoism said that humannature is perfect in itself and that every one should only live in accordance with one's own nature; Moism said that human nature is not perfect in itself, and that one should love all equally in

orderto make possible the prosperityof all; Confucianism said that althoughhuman nature is good, one needs efforts to "'develop,"to "'nourish,"and to "complete" it, and that although one should love others, the differenceof natural relationshouldbe considered. In the theory of education, Taoism taught a returnto nature, Moismtaught controlof the environment, and Confucianism taught the way of

and to Confucianism is the Heavenly


of the state, Taoism needed a

government,if any; Moism neededthe state

46 JamesLegge:ChineseClassics,Vol. I, pp. 448-449, with some modification. 4 Ibid., Vol. II, pp. 450-451.


self-realization. These seem to me to have justified my statement that in the history of Chinese thought Taoism stood for nature, Moism for art and Confucianismfor the

mean. We have

istence. The result of that great war was the complete failureof poor Moism, which soon disappearedonce for all. The causesof the failure of Moism were unknown; but, I think, the chiefcausemusthavebeenthe defectof the system itself. To illustratethis I cite from ChuangTse a passage:

seen that they struggled bitterly for ex-

"Mo Tse composedthe treatise 'Against Music' and the subject of

anotherwascalled'Economyin Expenditure.' He wouldhave no singing

in life, and no wearingof mourningon the occasion of death.

culcateduniversallove anda commonparticipationin all advantages,and

He in-

condemned fighting.




The teaching of such lessons cannot be

regardedas a proofof hislove formen;hispracticingthemin his owncase wouldcertainlyshowthat he did not love himself. But this has not been sufficientto overthrowthe doctrineof Mo Tse. Notwithstanding,men willsing,andhe condemnssinging;menwillwail,andhe condemnswailing; men will expresstheir joy, and he condemnssuch expression. Is this truly accordingto men'snature? Throughlifetoil, andat deathniggard- liness; causingmen sorrowand melancholyand difficultto be carriedinto practice,I fearit cannotbe regardedasthe way of sages. Contraryto the mindsof men,menwillnot endureit. ThoughMo Tse himselfmightbe abletoendureit, howis the aversionof the worldto it to be overcome?"48

Truly the aversion of the world to Moism had not been overcome, and people turned their back from it after the disappearanceof the enthusiastic, great personalityof Mo Tse himself. But, as already noted, there was another man at that time, who, althoughdifferentfromMo Tse, tried to develop the art line of Chineseideal. He was SuenTse (269 B. C.?- 239 B. C.?), who consideredhimselfas the true successorof Confucianism. He taught that humannatureis absolutely badandthat to makeit goodis the dutyof rulerandteacher. He condemnedChuangTse as:

"One who was blindedby nature and did not know human."49

48 From the

chapter "The World."

James Legge: Texts of Taoism, Pt. II,

pp. 218-219. 49 From the chapteron "The Eliminationof Blindness" in the workof Suen Tse.


According to his own ideal, he would instead of returningto it:

"It is betterto treat natureas a thing and regulateit than to consider

it very greatandalwaysthink of it. it than to followand admireit." 50

This is nearly the same as the Baconian conception of power. But, unfortunately, his pupils did not develop his thought alongthis line. They carriedout theirmaster's political philosophy and carried it too far. In the third century B. C. Shi Hwang Ti, or the "First Universal Em- peror,"of the Chin Dynasty, unified again warringstates into one, and Li Si, the disciple of Suen Tse, became the Premier. He helped the emperorin every respect to unify the empireand carriedthe authority of the governmentto an extreme. Having abolishedthe existing feudalismand thus absolutely unified the empire politically, he took a step farther to unify the people's thought. He burned books, killed scholars, and orderedthe people to come to the state or governmentprofessorsto learn things. Thus the emperor became an extreme tyrant and the people rebelled. Suen Tse's teaching, together with the Chin Dynasty, disappearedsoon and forever.

conquer nature

It is betterto controlnatureanduse


After the Chin Dynasty the "art" motive of Chinese thought almost never reappeared. Soon came Buddhism,

which again is a "nature" philosophyof the extremetype. The Chinesemind oscillatedamongTaoism, Confucianism, and Buddhismfor a long time. It was not until the tenth century A. D. that a new groupof men of geniussucceeded


Buddhism, into one, and instilling the new teaching into the Chinese national mind, which has persisted to the present day. Because this new teaching started in the Sung Dynasty, it is knownas the "Learningof Sung." Thesephilosophers

combining these three, Taoism, Confucianism, and

50 From the chapteron "On Nature" in the work of Suen Tse.


themselves claimed that their teaching was the genuine Confucianism. But it must be a new Confucianism,if it is

Confucianismat all.

first believers in Taoism and Buddhism, and afterwards came back to Confucianism. Then they picked from the "Li Ki" as their textbooks two chapters, to which few scholarshad paid any attention before that time. Truly it was their merit to call attention to these two chapters,

"The Great Learning" and "The Doctrine of Mean and Common,"whichembodiedConfucianismin a very system- atic way. I cannot refrain from citing from the "Great

Learning"certain passages, which were regardedtill very

recent time by the The passages are:

"The doctrineof the GreatLearningis: to enlightenthe enlightened virtue,to makepeoplelove each other,and to stop at the supremegood.


worldfirstorderedwelltheirownstates. Wishingto orderwelltheirown states, they first regulatedtheir ownfamilies. Wishingto regulatetheir

ownfamilies,they firstcultivatedtheirowncharacter.Wishingto cultivate their own characters,they firstrectifiedtheirminds. Wishingto rectify theirminds,they firstsoughtto be sincerein theirwishes. Wishingto be sincerein theirwishes,they firstextendedtheirwisdom. Suchextension of wisdomlay in the investigationof things." 51

This in a few words gave an admirable exposition of the Confucianist aim and art of life. The philosophers of Neo-Confucianismpicked out these passages and uncon- sciously read Taoism and Buddhism into them. They

differedfrom the originalConfucianismin that they set up

what they called the

as over against

'human desire," conceptions which were really suggested by the ideas of "Norm" and "Ignorance" in Buddhism, and were never spoken of very much before this period. Accordingto the genuine Confucianism,as we have seen, althoughhumannatureis good,the goodis only a germora "beginning,"to use the term of Mencius, and much effort is needed to "nourish,"to "develop," and to "complete"

Most of its representativeswere at

Chinese people as the sole aim of life.

The ancientswhowish to enlightenthe enlightenedvirtuein the



"'heavenlyreason "

61 James Legge: ChineseClassics,Vol. I, pp. 356-358, with modification.


it. Now according to Neo-Confucianism, the heavenly reason, though covered by human desires, is as perfect as ever, and men need only to remove these desires, and the true mind, like a diamond, will shine itself. This is very like what Lao Tse called "to diminish." Yet Neo-Con- fucianism differed from Taoism and Buddhism radically and attacked them seriously. It held that in order to "diminish" human desire and to recover the heavenly reason,it is not necessaryforoneto be in a state of complete negation of life. What is necessaryis to live accordingto reason, and it is only in life that the reason can be fully realized. Now these philosophers set out to investigate the "things," of the above quotation, and faced immediately the question: What are these things? This gave rise to two types of Neo-Confucianism. The one said that the

"things" are all external things and affairs. It is


sible to investigate all of them at once, and no one carried

this interpretationinto practice, not even the interpreter, Chu He, himself. The other said that "things" refer to phenomena in our mind. This interpretation was more successfully carried out. There were many subtle and convincing arguments from both sides, and all of them made some greatcontributionsto the theory and what may be called the art of life. This period of the history of Chinese philosophy was almost perfectly analogous to that of the development of modernsciencein Europeanhistory, in that its productions becamemoreand moretechnical,andhad an empiricalbasis and an applied side. The only, but important, difference was that in Europethe techniquedevelopedwas for know- ing and controllingmatter, while in China that developed was for knowing and controlling mind. To the latter technique India has also made a great contribution. But while the Indian technique can be practiced only in the negation of life, the Chinese technique can be practiced only within life. Arts differaccordingto the differenceof ideals.


But these controversies are not important for the present purpose. What concerns us here is the ideals that direct the Chinese mind, not the methods of realizing them. We may, therefore, say that so far as the ideal or aim is con- cerned all types of Neo-Confucianism are the same: the ideal is to diminish the human desire in order to recover the heavenly reason, and that is all.



Such is the Chinese idea of good. In the history of man- kind Mediaval Europe under Christianity tried to find good and happiness in Heaven, while Greece tried, and Modern Europe is trying to find them on earth. St. Augustine wished to realize his "City of God," Francis Bacon his "Kingdom of Man." But China, ever since the disap- pearance of the "nature" line of her national thought, has devoted all her spiritual energy to another line, that is, to find good and happiness directly in the human mind. In other words, Mediaeval Europe under Christianity tried to know God and prayed for His help; Greece tried, and Modern Europe is trying to know nature and to conquer, to control it; but China tried to know what is within our- selves, and to find there perpetual peace. What is the use of science? The two fathers of modern European philosophy gave two answers. Descartes said that it is for certainty; Bacon said that it is for power. Let us first follow Descartes and consider science as for certainty. We see at once that if one is dealing with one's own mind, there is at first no need of certainty. Bergson says in Mind Energy that Europe discovered the scientific method, because modern European science started from matter. It is from the science of matter that Europe gets the habit of precision, of exactness, of the anxiety for proof, and of distinguishing between what is simply possible and what is certain.

"Thereforescience,hadit beenappliedin the firstinstanceto the things of mind, would have probablyremaineduncertainand vague, however


far it may have advanced;it would, perhaps,never have distinguished betweenwhatis simplyplausible andwhatmustbe definitelyaccepted." 52

So Chinahas not discoveredthe scientificmethod, because Chinese thought started from mind, and from one's own mind. Is it necessaryfor me when I am hungryto prove to myself with roundabout,abstract, scientificmethod that I am desiringfood? Besides, Chinese philosophersconsideredphilosophy as somethingmost serious. It is not for intellectualinforma- tion, it is for doing. Chu He, the philosopher of Neo- Confucianism, said that the sages would not tell what virtue was like; they simply asked you to practice it; as they would not tell how sugar was sweet, they simply asked you to taste it. In this sense we may say that Chi-

nese philosophersloved the certaintyof perception,not that of conception,and therefore,they would not, and did not

translatetheir concretevision into the form of science.

one word China has no science, because of all philosophies

the Chinese philosophy is the most human and the most


their clear thinking and scientific knowledge, the Chinese

philosopherwould say with MarcusAurelius:

"Thanks,too, that in spite of my ardourfor philosophy,I did not fall into the hands of a professor,or sit poringover essays or syllogisms,or becomeengrossedin scientificspeculations." 3


Whilethe philosophersof the West are proudof


"Nothing is more dishearteningthan the weary round of

spying anything,probing(as Pindarsays) 'the depthof the earth,'guess- ing and pryingat the secretsof our neighbors'souls, instead of realising that it is enoughto keepsolelyto the godwithin,andto servehimwith all








in comparison with



China is

short of clear thinking, in compensation she has more

rational happiness.

Bertrand Russell said in the Nation

62H. Bergson: Mind Energy;Translatedby H. W. Carr; New p. 102.

York, 1920,

53 Marcus Aurelius Antoninus: To Himself; translated by G.

H. Rendall;

London, 1910.

I, 17, p. 9.

5 Ibid., II, 13, p. 15.


(London) that the Chinese people seem to be rational hedonists, differingfrom Europeansthrough the fact that they preferenjoymentto power.55 It is becauseof the fact that the Chinese ideal prefers enjoyment to power that Chinahas no need of science,even though science, accord-

ing to Bacon, is for power.

I said just now, had no need of scientificcertainty,because it was themselvesthat they wishedto know; so in the same way they had no need of the power of science, becauseit was themselvesthat they wishedto conquer. To them the content of wisdom is not intellectual knowledge and its function is not to increase external goods. To Taoism, external goods seem to be something that can only bring confusion to man's mind. To Confucianism,while they are not so bad as Taoism supposes,they are by no means the essentials of human welfare. Then what is the use of science? It seems to me that if the Chinese people had followed Mo Tse identifying good with useful, or Suen Tse so as to try to controlnatureinstead of admiringit, it is very likely that China would have produced science at a somewhat early time. Of course this is only a speculation. But this speculationis justifiedby the fact that in the books of Mo Tse and Suen Tse we do find the germs of science. Unfortunately or fortunately this "art" line of Chinese thought was conqueredby its opponents. What is the use of science, if intellectual certainty and the power to con- quer the external world are not included in the idea of good? One question may be raised:Why could Europe turn its attention fromheaven to earth, whereasChinaat the same time could not turn fromthe internalto the external? To this I answer: No matter whether the people of Europe tried 'to find good and happiness in heaven or in earth, their philosophies all belong to what I called the line of "art." Beforethe establishmentof Christianity,Stoicism,

The Chinese philosophers,as

5LVol.XXVIII (1921), p. 505.


which seems to me to be the "nature" line of European thought, taught man to serve his god within. But then came Christianity, which taught man to serve his God without. Man was no longer a self-sufficientbeing, but a sinner. Accordinglythe Europeanmind occupieditself in proving the existence of God. Philosophers proved it with the Aristotelian logic and by the study of natural phenomena. Philosophy and science, according to most philosophers of scholasticism, even Roger Bacon, were needed to explain the contents of the Scripture. Modern Europe has continued this spirit of knowing and proving the outside, only changing God for "Nature," creation for mechanism-that is all. There is a continuation of his- tory, but no clear demarcation between medieval and modern,Europe. Both try to know the outside world.

They firsttry to knowit, and after getting acquaintedwith it, they try to conquer it. So they are bound to have

science both

to have science,becausethey all supposethat humannature

is imperfectin itself. Men are weak, foolish, and helpless.

In orderto be perfect,strong,andwise,they needsomething that is to be added artificially. They need knowledgeand power. They needsociety, state, law, and virtue. Besides they need the help of a personifiedGod. But how about what I calledthe "nature" line of thought? If everything good is alreadyin us for all eternity, what use to searchfor

happiness in the external world? Will that not be like

what the Buddhistsaid about a beggaraskingfor food with

a goldenbowl? What is the use of scientificcertainty and power?

for certaintyand for power. They are bound


speak of things in abstract and general terms is al-


dangerous. But here I cannot refrain from saying

that the West is extension, the East is intension; and that

the West emphasizeswhat we have, the East emphasizes what we are. The question as to how to reconcile these two so that humanity may be happy both in body and in mind is at present difficultto answer. Anyway, the Chi- nese conception of life may be mistaken, but the Chinese



experiencecannotbe a failure.

become wiser and wiser, and think that they need peace

and happiness in their mind, they may turn their attention to, and gain something from, the Chinese wisdom. If they shall not think so, the mind energy of the Chinese people of four thousand years will yet not have been spent in vain.

The failure itself may warn our childrento stop searching

If mankindshallafterwards

for something in the barrenland of human mind. one of China's contributionsto mankind.



This is